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Hodaka 125 Wombat Restoration


Hodaka motorcycles have a strong following in the United States. The small, lightweight off-road range was very popular when they first came out and have become highly desirable with classic riders and collectors today.

1. Hodaka 125 Wombat Restoration

Image courtesy of Mike Hawkins

Restoring a classic motorcycle is much easier if the base machine was in good condition to begin with, and the bike featured here was a good case in point.

Owner Mike Hawkins originally purchased the bike in 1990 from the original owner who was located in Michigan.

2. Disassembly

Image courtesy of Mike Hawkins.

Upon initial inspection, Mike found the bike to be generally in good condition with low mileage. It was in stock condition with the exception of a set of aftermarket sprockets. However, although the bike was running, it was not running well and it had an obvious problem with the gearbox as it tended to jump out of gear.

A full restoration was decided upon including rebuilding the engine and gearbox. As part of the restoration, Mike wanted to change the basic color scheme. The decision was based on Mike's research. When he came across a photograph of a factory prototype showing the frame painted red (the production version was black) he decided to replicate the factory color scheme.

The entire bike was disassembled to component parts, including the engine and gearbox. Any parts that were being reused were bead blasted ready for painting—a job Mike did himself. The original bolts and nuts were cleaned, refinished, and reused.

3. Repairs and Replacements

Image courtesy of Mike Hawkins.

Due to the age of the bike, Mike decided to replace all the bearings and seals throughout both the engine and cycle systems.

The engine received a rebuilt crankshaft assembly and NOS cylinder. A piston and rings were fitted in addition to the new bearings and seals. Mike uses Yamalube R racing oil in the engine.

The gearbox problem turned out to be nothing more serious than the shift pawl mechanism needing adjustment along with new shifter springs. Mike uses a SAE-30W weight non detergent in the transmission.

In keeping with Mike's desire to replicate the factory prototype colors, the powder coated parts were all colored red; this, and a different front hub assembly, are the only deviations from stock. As Mike explained, "I couldn’t find a NOS front wheel, but I was able to find a front wheel off of a later model Wombat 125." The later unit has a larger conical hub which allowed the factory to fit bigger brake shoes for increased braking performance.

Replating included having the luggage rack and tool canister rechromed. The fenders are made from stainless steel and were in good shape so Mike simply polished them to the finish seen in the photographs.

Interestingly, the fuel tank was purchased some twenty years ago as NOS. Mike came across the tank in Washington State—he must have had a premonition he would need one of these one day!

The rear shocks are no longer available but the Redwing units fitted look very similar to the originals. The front forks were fully disassembled and cleaned, and rebuilt using new seals, bushes and PJ1 10 weight fork oil.

The exhaust system needed some repairs as it was dented in a few places (a typical problem associated with off-road bikes). Mike cut out the damaged areas and rewelded new sections in. The repaired system was sprayed with a high temp. satin black paint.

4. Reassembly

Image courtesy of Mike Hawkins.

Reassembly of the bike took approximately three months of Mike's spare time, but then he knows a thing or two about the marque. "I am very familiar with Hodakas as I have six of them now and had as many as twelve at one time!" However, the restoration was made easier as Mike owns copies of both a shop manual and a parts book.

The finished bike is used mainly for shows—it tied for first place in a 2012 show for best Japanese bike.

According to Mike the only bad news on the restoration was the cost. "No real bad news except for the amount of money I spent on parts, over $2000."

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